Bruins return from break to battle Sabres
(SportsNetwork.com) - Zdeno Chara and the Boston Bruins are ready to get back to work on Wednesday, as they emerge from the Olympic break to visit the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center.
Chara created a minor stir by leaving the Bruins early so he could take on the duties of flag bearer for his native Slovakia at the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics. Boston split two games (1-0-1) without Chara in the lineup, but the reigning Eastern Conference champions still entered the break with a seven-point lead over Tampa Bay for the Atlantic Division lead.
While Chara and Team Slovakia were knocked out in the qualification playoffs by the rival Czechs, the Bruins did have a representative win a medal of every kind in Sochi. Patrice Bergeron won gold with Team Canada, fellow Bruins forward Loui Eriksson picked up a silver for Sweden and goaltender Tuukka Rask earned a bronze medal with Finland.
Now the trick for Boston's Olympians is to try and adapt quickly to the grind of the NHL season, and to get back their sleep schedule back to normal.
"I'm sure we're going to feel it for a few days; there's no secret (to it)," said Chara after Monday's practice in Boston. "You're on anywhere from a nine to twelve-hour time difference and you know, you felt it today. I felt it for sure today, a little bit of jet lag and it's going to probably take a few days."
Boston won three of its last four games before the Olympics and closed its pre-break schedule with a 7-2 rout of Ottawa on Feb. 8. It marked the fourth time in eight games that the Bruins had scored six or more goals in a game.
The Bruins will play five of their first eight games after the break on the road, where the club is just 14-10-2 this season compared to a stellar 23-6-2 mark on home ice.
Boston is 2-1-0 against the Sabres this season with two meetings left in the season series. The B's have three wins over their last five trips to Buffalo.
The Sabres, who are last in the NHL with only 40 points on the season, had lost four straight before returning from the Olympic break with a 3-2 win over visiting Carolina on Tuesday. Christian Ehrhoff scored the winner with 43.4 seconds to play to lift the Sabres in the NHL's first tilt after the Winter Games.
Ehrhoff also scored the first goal of the game, while Tyler Ennis added a marker for the Sabres. Ryan Miller stopped 36 shots to secure the victory.
"It had to do a lot with Miller again," Ehrhoff said. "He made some huge saves for us. He was very sharp. He was our best player again tonight."
Buffalo is opening its post-Olympics schedule on a three-game homestand. The Sabres, who are 10-17-5 at First Niagara this season, had lost eight straight as the host before posting Tuesday's win over the Hurricanes.